On to the interview. Catherine Howard was Henry VIII's fourth or fifth wife, depending on how you count them. The young cousin to Anne Boleyn caught Henry's eye, became queen, and was executed for treason/adultery all in less than two years' time.
Oh, I don’t really care how it’s spelled. I used a K but I never asked my parents how it should be. I wasn’t much for spelling.
You were rather young when you caught Henry’s eye. And he was hardly the dashing figure he had been. Tell us about your feelings when you learned of his attraction to you. Were you surprised?
Goodness, no! Many men were attracted to me. The idea of marriage was somewhat of a shock though.
Did you want to marry him?
I did. I’d never been married, you see and he was so devoted to me. There are a few benefits to being a queen.
So you never considered saying no?
No one said no to Henry. Besides, all my family was pressuring me about it. You wouldn’t believe how many relatives who wouldn’t give me the time of day suddenly showed up to embrace “dear Katheryn.” I knew it was only their ambition, but I enjoyed the attention. Uncle Norfolk made it perfectly clear to me that refusing was not an option. So I decided I might as well make the best of it.
What do you think was your greatest achievement during your time as queen, brief though it was?
I kept Henry happy. That was no mean feat. King or no he was the moodiest man in Christendom and possessed of a foul temper.
It’s widely believed that you were a silly young girl, incapable of understanding your responsibilities or the dangers of your position. How do you respond to those claims?
*shrugs* I can’t really disagree. Though I would like to say that I have improved since my death.
Do you have a favorite color?
One of our readers wanted to know who you consider your true love.
I don’t know that any of them were true to me. I can only speak for my own heart, which when I gave it was given in full. Thomas Culpeper was my great love.
What about Dereham?
Oh please. I was a child then.
He took complete advantage of me. I didn’t know any better where he was concerned.
Is it true that you said upon your execution that you “would rather die the wife of Culpeper?”
Certainly not! I may have been passionate and naïve but I was not that stupid.
If you were going to point fingers, who would you blame for your downfall?
My parents and others who had charge of me. I was taught almost nothing. The people who should have protected me failed in their duty. I was told things but nothing was ever explained to me as a young girl.
Could you give us an example?
Female virtue. I was told to keep myself pure for marriage but not what constituted impurity. How easy it was for Mannox to tell me that what he was doing left my virtue intact! What did I know of relations between men and women? Only what I observed in those around me, and no one explained wrong behavior to me. I could only my heart to follow.
What about after your marriage? Surely then you knew that certain behaviors or activities would be inappropriate for a queen to engage in with a man other than the king.
Show me proof of my supposed crimes.
How about that letter you wrote to Thomas Culpeper?
I loved him, that is true. And I longed for his company, but never was there anything in our behavior which would insult the king. Nothing that could be called sinful. The letter proves my feelings for him, but not that I ever acted on them in an improper way. There was no adultery.
After being tortured.
As did Dereham.
Dereham was guilty; he seduced a young girl of no consequence. Had he any idea that I would be queen someday he would not have done so.
Why did you allow him to be your private secretary?
Foolish girl that I was, I thought I had loved him and that he still cared for me. It seemed harmless enough to ensure him a comfortable position as he said “after all we’d meant to each other.”
If you could have lived in modern times, what would you have done?
If I had the same family, I suppose I’d be on Girls Gone Wild. With a different upbringing I might distinguish myself somehow. I’d be an attorney perhaps, or an actress. It’s a shame we didn’t have films back then.
So you’re a big fan of movies then. Do you have a favorite?
Mmm. Legally Blonde.
That’s all we have for this time. Join us again at our usual time for Katherine Parr. Thanks for reading.